Thursday, February 17, 2011

Album Review: Hot Sugar: Muscle Milk

Hot Sugar creates a fun, adventurous landscape on his debut EP. The opener "Violence" seems like an ironic title for the first minute in, all bird calls and twinkling bells, before cavalcade of crushing synths, snapping snares and stuttering drums that rattle like rusty tin blades. "The Seagull" manages to be both playful and menacing, with deliriously high pitch distorted tones warbling in and out beside foreboding stabs of fat brass.

Versatility and coherently combining opposite musical tones seems to be Hot Sugar's specialty. "Not Tonight" and "Tarzanite" are R&B workouts that simultaneously sound organic and digitized, while "Color Wars," featuring Aaron Earl Livingston, dives headfirst into the kind of soulful psychedelia perfect for zoning out at the club or zoning out from reality.

One of Muscle Milk's standout cuts however, is the industrial-hip hop mashup "Don't Cut Down My Tree." By turns claustrophobic and spacious, the track is full of twisting, grinding and suffocating samples, whizzing synthesizers, spliced up drums and a bassline so filthy that you'll have to wash your ears out afterward. Next to this, "Motorcycle Man," a piece of bubbly electronic pop, sounds like kid stuff. Hot Sugar still has an Ace in the hole though, the delightfully nasty and laid back "F*ckable," featuring a thumping memorable bass that springs out of the speakers and a well of guitar funk so deep it'd make Prince shed a tear, or at least give a certified falsetto shout.

The only problem with Muscle Milk is that the party ends much too soon. But ultimately that's a good thing, because it only creates anticipation to see what Hot Sugar can do with a full-length album.


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